DEAR DR. NERDLOVE: I’ve been talking to this girl I met online for almost a year now, let’s call her W. I wasn’t actually looking for a relationship in the first place, since we can’t go out and meet people in person, I just wanted to talk with new people during this pandemic. I swiped her right and we start chatting, times passed by and it’s been almost a year since we started we messaging one another. We shared the pictures of what we eat, she recommended some shows she watched and we talked about almost everything except some personal stuffs (coz she’s quite private about her life and I didn’t wanna ask too much)
I’ve enjoyed the conversation with her and we texted each other almost every day, I thought “wow this is rare, it’s been awhile since the last time I actually feel comfortable with someone that I can actively chat with them and not get bored.” Then things changed when my ex texted me and asked if we can get back together. The weird thing is, instead of thinking about my ex and our history, the first thing that popped into my mind was W. Admittedly, I felt weird cause at that time I still saw her as an online friend, nothing more, but “thanks” to my ex, then I realized that I actually felt something for W and she’s actually more than a friend to me.
Fast forward to last month, she told me that she’s feeling unwell for a week and I was worried that she may have caught COVID. In fact, I was so worried that she might be seriously ill that I ended up confessing to her. She kindly turned me down and said that she doesn’t reciprocate my feelings, that she finds me interesting but nothing more and she hopes that she doesn’t hurt me that way. After the day I confessed to her, we still talk a bit about some casual things but then the conversation ended on my end. I didn’t reply cause you know, I don’t wanna force the conversation when there really is no new topic to talk about. It’s been almost 2 weeks that we haven’t chatted, there are times that I wanna text her but I know that it ain’t right, cause I still have feelings for her. But on the other hand I don’t wanna lose her as a friend.
Do you think that by not reaching out to her is the right thing to do? ‘Cause, personally I know that this might not end well if I still talk to her while I still have lingering feelings, and I too am afraid that things might be awkward now cause we haven’t talked with each other for awhile now. I kinda guess that this might be the hard yet right decision but still I want a second opinion about it.
Thanks in advance,
DEAR TWICE SHY: You’ve got a crush on W. It happens. You confessed your feelings and got the “let’s just be friends” speech. This also happens. The thing is: if you actually want to keep her as a friend? Then you have to act like a friend to her. Maintaining a friendship while also having complicated pantsfeels for them isn’t a violation of The Friend Code, TS. It’s just continuing to be their friend. After all, when you and W were chatting before you realized you were interested in her, it was hardly as though you were trying to Nice Guy your way into her pants. The same with when you realized that oh, hey, maybe your feelings for her are slightly more than platonic; I presume you and she weren’t behaving any differently than you had been before.
The only difference now is that you feel awkward about things and you’re letting that awkwardness get in the way of your friendship. But here’s the thing: what you’re doing right now is setting you on the path of losing that friendship. If you want to keep W in your life as a friend, then you’re gonna have to do what friends do when s--t gets a little awkward: you power through it. And the first step to killing the awkward is to acknowledge the awkwardness. Call it out, specifically: “Hey, I know we haven’t talked in a bit because, honestly, I was feeling a bit awkward about things after the whole ‘I like you’ thing. And look, I like our friendship, I want that to continue, so how about we agree that things may feel weird for a bit, but we’ll both resolve to just power through it and keep on with what we have? Cool? So check this out, I found this recipe for making bulgogi in an Instant Pot and…”
And from there, you act like you did before. Share meals, talk about TV shows and games; if things start to feel a little strained, just push through by continuing to behave as before. If need be, you can even have a little signal of “oh, ok, that got a bit on the awkward side” — I know friends who use a turtle emoji for such an occasion.
Also here’s the thing about crushes: they’re like fires. Quit feeding them and they go out on their own. While crushes can be inconvenient, part of how you defang them is to simply note and name those feelings. “Oh, yes, I’m feeling that inconvenient crush on W again. Good to know.” Noting and calling out the feeling to yourself — and again, noting it as “I am feeling”, not “I am” — acknowledges how you’re feeling without trying to do anything with it. Trying to force it away doesn’t work; it just makes seem more intense. Trying to ignore it doesn’t work either; that just makes you much more aware of it as you continuously try to distract yourself. Acknowledging it to yourself and then just moving on to other things means that you feel it, you recognize it’s there but you also don’t feed it. You’re simply letting it do its thing until it runs its course and burns out.
But again: this is all contingent on your wanting to maintain a friendship with her. If being friends with her is too much for you or it would be like sandpaper to your soul to have her in your life… well, nobody says you have to be friends with someone when being friends with them hurts. In that case, yes, cutting ties would be the best move; you have to do what’s right for you. But if you want to actually “just be friends” after getting the LJBF speech?
Then act like her friend, same as you did before.
Please send your questions to Dr. NerdLove at his website (www.doctornerdlove.com/contact); or to his email, firstname.lastname@example.org